Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go

Authors: Noureen Abdel Rahman, Erin Coyne, and Kyla Dewey


We feel you, we totally do, and we know that you struggle to get out of bed early especially when you are going to Process Controls at 8am. You are not the only one who has to get up at early hours in the morning everyday. According to a study conducted by Dailymail UK, they surveyed people from different countries and the results show that the world wakes up earliest on Mondays with South Africa rising first at 6:09 am. The average wake-up time for Americans is 7 am, while in Saudi Arabia it’s 8:23 am making the latest wake-up time from the countries surveyed by the Dailymail. Even the latest time is considered by many to be early, which is why an alarm is a necessity to almost everyone in all countries. What you might not know is that people have actually been using alarms of sorts to wake up before clocks were even a thing. The morning sun was the original cue to rise and shine, and roosters played a big role in crowing sleepers, as well. Later in the 18th century with the booming industrial revolution, a lot of businesses relied on an on-time workforce, so some companies in the big cities hired a “knocker-up”; someone designated to go door to door waking people up for work. It wasn’t until the 1870s that alarm clocks started to become a common thing in houses, and over time alarm clocks became an important fixture in almost every bedroom, because they solve a real problem by ensuring that we wake up on time. However, with the advancing technology, our busy schedules and external influences like mobile phones, tablets, televisions, streetlights and a wide range of other things that can interrupt our sleep, our bodies demand more sleep and lead us to either waking up tired and grumpy OR NOT WAKING UP TO THE ALARM. And yes, you’ll miss class, work,…and LIFE!

Our application is here to solve this problem.

What is the application?

Our application is an alarm clock with a heart rate sensor, that wakes a person up based on reaching a target Heart Rate (HR) Zone for a certain period of time. Our application would be an additional feature for someone already using a device such as a FitBit or an Apple Watch. These devices are already measuring the user’s heart rate and our application is the addition of an alarm, which would force the user to get out of bed and raise their heart rate to a level that proves they are up and moving for a designated period of time to ensure that the user won’t return to sleep after the alarm is turned off. You can’t cheat the system because we got it all covered. Take a look below.

How does it work?

Once you get the alarm, you input some information about yourself like: age, gender, weight, and athletic ability. Two questions will pop up asking you if you are diabetic or have any heart problems, to which you answer yes or no. Then, set the alarm and go to bed.

When you are sleeping, a slow heartbeat with rates 40-50 bpm is common and is considered normal. When you wake up and are resting in bed, the average rate of the heartbeat of an adult is 60-100 bpm if they are calm and not ill. Generally, men have a resting heart rate that’s on average 3.5 bpm lower than women. A resting heart rate is the heart pumping the lowest amount of blood that you need because you’re not exercising or doing any activity. Once your heart rate reaches somewhere in the middle of the resting heart rate range of 50-100 beats per minute (bpm), based on your age, gender, weight/BMI, and activity level, the sound and vibration of the alarm will stop, but the alarm will not turn off.  


For the alarm to turn off, you will have to reach a certain heart rate, approximately 60% of your maximum heart rate, that is tailored to you.  For a rough estimate, your maximum heart rate = (220 bpm- your age).  


If this heart rate is not reached within two minutes, the alarm will vibrate and sound again and keep going off until you reach your target heart rate. Ways to reach this target heart rate include performing jumping jacks, mountain climbers, or some other form of physical fitness that will raise your heart rate quickly. These activities aren’t intense enough to make you feel exhausted if done for a minute or two, but at the same time they aren’t like simply stumbling to the bathroom to brush your teeth in a daze while debating going to bed again. We want you awake and ready to start your day in order to be productive! So a few jumping jacks will be perfect to make the alarm stop making noise so that your neighbors won’t have to call the police (hopefully).


Why does it need control and what about the application needs controlling?

CV: sound/vibration

MV: heart rate

The alarm is controlled by the user’s heart rate.  The controlled variable would be the sound and vibration coming from the watch to wake up the user.  The user changes her heart rate by exercising, therefore manipulating whether or not the alarm sounds.  The manipulated variable is heart rate.  When the alarm goes off, the user’s heart rate should be below the resting heart rate set for her.  When she wakes up, her heart rate will rise to the resting heart rate and the alarm will stop sounding, but begin a timer for two minutes.  When her heart rate reaches the determined 60% of maximum heart rate for her, the alarm will turn itself off.  If the heart rate is not reached fast enough, the alarm will sound again until the user gets her heart rate up to the appropriate value.  This is how the manipulated variable, heart rate, determines the output of the controlled variable, sound and/or vibration.  

What could happen to our system?

DV: weight, age, gender, activity level, anxiety, night terrors, battery life of watch

Target HR Zones are based on a percentage of a person’s maximum heart rate. The general rule of thumb is to start with 220 bpm and subtract age to get a person’s maximum heart rate, but this can vary from person to person. It is a good baseline, but their are many factors that can go into a maximum HR such as: weight, age, gender, activity level, etc.

Weight is a very significant factor in the heart rates. While the resting heart for a normal adult is 60-80 bpm, an athlete in great shape will have a resting heart rate of 40-60 bpm. Your heart rate changes based on the demand you put on your muscles. When the demand is high, the heart will beat harder to deliver extra oxygen to the muscles for metabolism. People who have extra weight in the form of fat usually have an elevated heart rate when they do any physical activity. Even, when at rest, overweight people have a higher heart rate than normal because the heart has to work overtime since the extra weight is restricting the blood flow through the arteries and veins.

In adults, heart rate is known to be higher in women than men. Gender-related differences may correlate with lower cardiovascular diseases in women and greater longevity of life for them.

Some other disturbance variables may include anxiety and night terrors which could both cause a spike in heart rate without the user getting out of bed. When a person has anxiety or a panic attack, they experience what is known as Heart Palpitation. This is a condition where the force of the heartbeat is considerably elevated, causing a disturbance in the heartbeat rhythm.  

Some health conditions can also act as an external disturbance. One of the main effects of an organic heart disease or a heart failure is a “racing” heart. Heart rates during a heart attack can vary from too slow or fast to palpitations and even skipped beats.

The battery life of the watch could also be considered a disturbance variable because if the watch dies there will be no alarm in the morning.

Even taking into account the research and averages for age, gender, weight, athletic ability, and similar variables, these HR zones are not going to be 100% accurate. Each person is an individual and their personal heart rate zones are going to be unique. Also, an individual’s zones may change over time, lowering if they are in better athletic shape and going up if they are living a less healthy lifestyle. These baseline ranges based on averages from data and research are a good starting mark, but a person’s resting and moderate exercise HR ranges may be outside of their expected bounds. As use of the device increases over time, a person should have the ability to adjust their limits to personalize the alarm to better suit the individual.


Works Cited












  1. I really liked your alarm clock watch idea and I thought your article was really funny! Every morning I use my phone as an alarm clock, which blasts some type of music that generally gives me a heart attack, which wakes me up. I have never been the type to shut the alarm off and go back to bed, but I do shut my alarm off and just mess around on my phone for some time before getting up. If I had your watch I would be forced to get out of bed quicker and do some exercise, which is probably a better use of my time in the morning. I allow myself a solid ten minutes before I really need to start getting ready, but I could probably sleep a few minutes later if your watch got me quickly out of bed and ready to go. I think that morning people like me would definitely want to use your watch so that we are up and alert starting the day. I think the problem is that lazy people who always shut their alarms off and go back to bed would not want this watch because it would force them out of bed quicker. They definitely do acknowledge that they will miss class, but I’m sure not many people want to do jumping jacks at the crack of dawn to start the day. Although if people really do need help getting up, I think this watch is a really useful device.

    Some other thoughts regarding the application are that I think that the variable you want to control is the time you want to wake up in the morning (how quickly you get up) and then the sound/vibration is what is actually used to wake you up. Then I think that the manipulated variable is something like the exercise that you do which affects your heart rate, because the more jumping jacks, the higher your heart rate will be, so that the alarm will stop ringing. I like the list of disturbance variables because they are all possible things that can affect the user all the time or at night, along with dreams in general and the problems with the watch if it malfunctions. The disturbance variables such as gender/weight are factored into the programming in the watch so they are controlled based on each person, but something such as nightmares would not be controlled because the watch is always set to a certain heart rate before you even go to sleep so it will still want your heart rate to be at a certain level in the morning. So some of the disturbances cannot be controlled because some variables are not predetermined. If the watch breaks then it will neither wake you up nor make sure that your heart rate is at a sufficient level, which is a problem because you will miss your class. In theory, it may not be that difficult to control the control variable of waking up. If the alarm sounds, you have a certain about of time to get your heart rate up to a certain amount by doing some exercises, but if you don’t get up then the alarm will sound again.

    I think that your ideas could be very useful and I think that maybe someone would potentially like to try it, but I don’t think that there will be a huge market for the product. I would say most people either wake up to their alarms and get up or people are too lazy and don’t want to get up and won’t want to do any exercise in the morning. On top of that, this watch is probably expensive because it has to have so many functions and applications to make sure everything is perfect, but everyone already has a phone that can also be used as an alarm so we don’t need an alarm watch, we can just wear a normal watch and use a phone. For those people who do want to get up and do exercises in the morning, they could potentially want your product, maybe even people in another country, but for now Americans are lazy and can’t get up. If the watch was cheap, there would be a greater demand just to try it out, and if they don’t like the idea they don’t have to continue to use it but it’s not a big deal because it was cheap. With the development of technology, your product can be very popular.

  2. Overall, this post had an energetic, relatable tone that effectively communicated the utility of this device. The advertisement-vibe really worked for this application and made me want to buy it! The article integrated good examples of how alarm clocks have become such an integral part of our daily function. You could consider expanding on some examples beyond the evolution of the alarm clock to make the application’s justification more explicitly relevant to today. Consider including how globalization/capitalism has affected the demands placed on workers as well as statistics on percentage of workers working 9-5 or office jobs or something that requires timely presence.

    However, throughout the blog post there were consistent grammatical errors. For example, the opening sentence should read “I always miss my 8 a.m.’s” (or some variation, depending on how you prefer to express a.m., which is grammatically flexible). There are also punctuation errors such as comma misuse. The article could flow better, as there was sometimes redundant or awkward/cumbersome phrasing, such as in “Our application is an alarm clock with a heart rate sensor, that wakes a person up based on reaching a target Heart Rate (HR) Zone for a certain period of time.” Consider rephrasing to make clear that the alarm clock doesn’t shut off until the target heart rate is reached and sustained for a certain time period.

    More generally, the post may benefit from more specification of what exactly the alarm clock is and how it functions. What does the alarm look like? Is it a bedside alarm? Is it a watch? Is it an app that integrates into a pre-existing Fitbit or apple watch, as mentioned? Is the target heart rate 50-100 or 60-100bpm? Where in the middle must it reach? The system as described in the post feels a bit nebulously-defined and unspecified. Also, the sentence “Once your heart rate reaches somewhere in the middle of the resting heart rate range of 50-100 beats per minute (bpm), based on your age, gender, weight/BMI, and activity level, the sound and vibration of the alarm will stop, but the alarm will not turn off” is ambiguous. You may want to consider rephrasing for clarity, especially where you say that the sound and vibration will stop, but the alarm will not turn off. Additionally, the disturbance variables aren’t completely clear. You say that a night terror could be a disturbance variable, but if the heart rate is only measured or only important after the specified wake-up time, why would a night terror disrupt that? Would a night-terror occur after someone has been woken up by a sounding, vibrating alarm? Also, can you give an example of why anxiety or panic attacks would induce a heart palpitation early in the morning? That is, why is this relevant as a disturbance variable?

    Other edits to consider include avoiding the use of the word “normal” when talking about factors relating to individuals’ differences. Additionally, you say “Even, when at rest, overweight people have a higher heart rate than normal because the heart has to work overtime since the extra weight is restricting the blood flow through the arteries and veins,” which may be problematic – “overweight people” alienates people. Not all overweight people have a high percentage of body fat, and not all people with a high percentage of body fat are overweight. Weight and BMI are not sufficient measures for determining overall health, so this needs clarification and more (cited) evidence. Also, the beginning of this sentence is not grammatically correct. I think you mean “even at rest overweight people…” Another problematic phrase is used when you refer to “Gender-related differences…” I think you mean “sex.” It’s problematic to conflate the two, as they’re not the same and do not have the same implications.

  3. The application of this alarm clock is very useful, especially for people like me who are so good at snoozing that sometimes I actually turn off my alarm in my sleep. I never assume that I’m going to wake up on my first alarm, and sometimes this really does impact my productivity for the day, or at least the morning. This system seems to be that the alarm clock continues to sound until your heartbeat reaches a certain resting heart beat for an extended amount of time, say a few minutes. I think that the device could be set to just the resting heartbeat of someone who has just stood up and started walking. The thought of having to do jumping jacks as soon as I step out of bed is not all that appealing to me, but I would at least try it, and maybe I’ll end up liking that burst of energy right away. The only thing that would be unappealing to me about this device is that I have to wear a watch when I sleep, and I don’t like wearing anything on my arms when I sleep. Maybe I could get used to it. In any case, the continuously ringing alarm clock would annoy me just enough for me to actually get up and get going, so ultimately I would use this device.

    The proposed control scheme for this device is that the sound and vibration of the alarm clock are the controlled variables; the user’s heart rate is the manipulated variables, and deviation variables include weight, age, gender, activity level, anxiety, night terrors, and battery life of watch. I think that an additional controlled variable for this device would be the amount of time for which the alarm sounds because the alarm continues to sound until the target heart rate is reached. I think the only possible manipulated variable here is the user’s heart rate. This is definitely a non-traditional manipulated variable, because the device cannot control the heart rate, but the user only subconsciously controls it. I think that the deviation variables that pertain to the physical characteristics of the user can be programmed into the watch, so I don’t think that these would need to be considered deviation variables if the watch is accounting for them. It seems to me that the most pertinent deviation variables are anxiety and night terrors/dreams because these events increase the user’s heart rate while they are still asleep. These events may cause the alarm to sound on the watch at the wrong time, so maybe the alarm clock should be programmed to a certain time so that the alarm will only sound at that time.

    This device is quite usable in actual practice because device similar to these already exist. I think the device could potentially be an application for a FitBit or Apple Watch because it is mostly dependent on software. From my limited knowledge of software costs, I could imagine this application costing maybe $10-$20 if it is developed into an add-in for a FitBit or Apple Watch that the user already owns. I think this would be a very applicable system if it were adapted to such a pre-existing device.

  4. Great. Idea. I also suffer from ESB syndrome (Excessive-Snooze-Button syndrome) and think a lot about our increasingly hectic lives and morning fatigue that many people seem to experience. I think a lot of people would be interested in, and benefit from, this idea in one shape or another. The problem is the ease of pressing a “snooze” button to get some more precious minutes of sleep in, but ironically the extra minutes will not really help to reduce your fatigue, which is probably the result of a bigger problem (such as going to bed too late, getting poor quality sleep, or being lazy). My initial concerns with this idea are that the target audience for the heartrate regulated alarm clock are people that have trouble waking up, and most of these people would probably not have the motivation or enthusiasm to do jumping jacks in the morning. My other concern is about people that have tech-aphobia (not big iPhone/technology users) and their willingness to hop on this idea and to take the time to figure out their personal heart rate info. That being said, I think this concept is very applicable and would be really useful, especially for college kids with a lot of 8ams!

    The process control scheme is interesting to think about because the user has to initiate action on his or her heart rate (manipulated variable) in order to change the controlled variable to the desired setpoint (stopping the alarm!), so the success of the process largely depends on the motivation of the individual. I think the potential disturbance variables given including age, weight, gender etc. are legitimate and should be considered when setting the 60% HR parameter. Furthermore, I think you made a valid observation that over time and with more familiarization, the user can more accurately set his or her manipulated variable designation. The heart rate is measured with the watch once the alarm sounds, and doesn’t stop until this measurement reaches the “setpoint” HR. Additional disturbance variables that come to mind are the ability of the watch to accurately measure the heart rate of a person moving vigorously while doing mountain climbers. Does the watch fit loosely? How quickly can the watch’s measurement react to a person’s changing heart rate? (i.e how long does it take someone to get their heart rate to the setpoint doing jumping jacks?) You guys laid out the process very clearly and effectively for the application you’re going for!

    One {grammatical} aspect of the blog that I’d revisit is the use of “her” exclusively as a pronoun, which was tough to help me, a boy, envision myself doing the alarm watch activities. Otherwise, I really like the enthusiasm of the proposal and use of Napoleon’s wisdom regarding jumping jacks supplemented with heart rate and BMI technical info. It would truly work because the hardest part of getting up is just that – standing up. Once you’re up, the juices get flowing and you’re on your way, so the heart rate increase is a very smart way to force this to happen. Sign me up, nice job guys!

  5. It is an amazing idea, since all college students are struggling with how to get up to catch up the 8:00 am courses, especially the most amazing class in Lafayette College the Process Control taught by Dr. Woo. This design gives a significantly positive effect on students, because they will never miss classes and exams any more; however, it will cause some “Cons” such as that people will never worry they cannot wake up on time; therefore, probably they will go sleep later than they did before, and it is harm to their health.
    This article gives a clear outline of how it works. The group uses a heart rate sensor based on the periodically varying heart rate. The proposed control scheme makes sense, since it actually, is based on our ideal developed on our class. It is like a feedback loop control, by measuring the heart rate, periodically, and comparing it, and then judging whether the person still sleeping or not. Furthermore, it is very clear to give numerical scientific data of resting heart rate to explain how it works.
    However, human body is the most complicated systems so far. Actually, we cannot get a accurate transfer function to associate the people from the all world. Internally, Like, different human species, the different age, the different physical conditions, habits, congenital diseases and so on. Externally, the altitude also affects heart rate. Therefore, how to fit those conditions is actually a big problem. On the other, we need to this tiny machine so closely to our body, which means the options of materials are so limited, non-toxic, non-radioactive, on resonance affecting the internal period in our body and sensitive to like heart rate, pressure. Therefore I would like to expect it is usable but not practical.
    To be honest, I do not have good suggestions to make it more viable, because I have never taken bio class; I understand nothing Bio mechanism corresponding the process. Just for completeness, I think the group can add some other measurements such as breath rate, body temperature, consternation of blood sugar to adjust.

  6. I think this is a really great idea. The concept that to turn off the alarm the person needs to get up and exercise rather than just being able to hit the snooze button is interesting. I also enjoyed reading the post as it has a great tone that made me want to have this product. As someone who has started turning off their alarm in their sleep, I think this is something that I could use. It is something that will be appealing to a large group of people. The overall concept of the alarm was communicated fairly well. It is clear that the alarm is meant to make it impossible for someone to turn off the alarm without getting out of bed and actually waking up rather than being sluggish in the morning. Some aspects of this aren’t very unclear. The most confusing aspect is how the alarm turns on. I believe that the concept is that the user would input what time they want to be awake, however the blog does make it seem that the alarm will turn on when the user’s heart rate reaches a certain level. This needs to be made more clear. I also did not understand how elevations in heart rate in the middle of the night would disturb the process. If the alarm has yet to turn on then why would an elevated heart rate matter since there is nothing to turn off. If this would have an effect on the user, I think it needs to be better explained as this could be an issue for people with conditions that affect heart rate.

    An addition that would be helpful could be a way to turn off the alarm without reaching the intended heart rate. I know that the concept is that the person must get out of bed to turn off the alarm, however, heart rate is something that is different from person to person. The main disturbance variable discussed was heart rate. If the original input will generate an estimated heart rate range that will turn off the alarm, there is a possibility that the individual will not reach that from a simple exercise. There are also some other cases where this could be useful. For example, the user could have forgotten to turn off their alarm, and they do not need to wake up early.

    The language that is used in some places could also be changed. The user would need to input several things such as their weight, age and gender. The word “gender” is not appropriate here. A better word to use would be “sex”. The user’s gender would not really affect their heart rate while their sex would. Also there is a section where the pronoun “she” is used quite a bit. While there is nothing wrong with this specifically there is a section earlier that is gender neutral where words such as “person” and “user” are used. It would be better to choose one or the other. Also, if the decision to use gendered pronouns is made, it would be better to alternate using both masculine and feminine pronouns in different sections.

  7. I think it is a very interesting idea that use rising heart rate as a way to turn off the alarm so people can be more energetic for the day. I personally never really go for snooze when I am trying to go to class, but it is really hard to wake up early in the morning for something like a morning practice before 6 a.m.. So I think that using this can be helpful yet a quick early morning jumping jack might be annoying for some people that are not a fan of moving in the morning. I think there will be some general public willing to get this app if it is on a smart watch or fitness band, but for the people that do not really use those things, they will not get the chance to use it if it is only on smart watch or fitness band, which is probably not that many people.

    I think that the main control scheme is very clear and understandable, and it is easy to do since most of the smart watch and fitness band already track user’s heart rate and time, so it is not much more to add on it to make it more complex. The manipulate variable will be easy to manipulate too since some simple quick exercises can being the heart rate up, and the control variable , the alarm, will stop and people are more awake, so goal accomplished. For the disturbance variables for the heart rate, it might be useful to track the user’s heart rate for a period of time so the system can learn the possible baseline heart rate and possible max heart rate or heart rate at exercise. That can help to control some disturbance variables that might vary the baseline. Also, it might be helpful to track the sleeping time/cycle for the user, since that some studies have shown that the waking up at the right time will also be an important factor for how awake someone is.

    I think that it is very potential this application can be use in the actual market since it is not a huge complicated design because for the target device, smart watches and fitness band, they all have a build-in heart rate tracker and time. The problem is that smart watches and fitness band is not cheap, and some cheap one either does not work properly or malfunction too often, so those are not good for this application because it will require the system to get a good read of the heart rate to determine whether or not to turn off the alarm. So the problem is the popularity and the economical availability of the smart watch and fitness band because those are the two technological items people wear most of the time and can track heart rate and time. If the economical availability of those items are low, not that many people will get it, and therefore this application will not be used widely.

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